husqvarna vitpilen 401 Top Speed & Performance Review

husqvarna vitpilen 401 Top Speed

The cafe racer and modern scrambler styles have surged back into the spotlight in recent years. While some manufacturers simply mimic vintage designs in their new models, Husqvarna took a more innovative approach.

The Vitpilen 401 melds timeless aesthetics from the past with the latest engineering advancements. Shunning the ubiquitous parallel twin platform, Husqvarna opted for an advanced 373cc single-cylinder powerplant. Thoroughly modern, yet wrapped in a stylishly minimalist retro package.

But the Vitpilen aims to deliver more than just showroom appeal or abstraction from the norm. Husqvarna engineered this motorcycle to deliver a uniquely engaging and dynamic riding experience. The focal point of that hands-on performance ethos centers sharply on the bike’s top speed capabilities.

Can Husqvarna’s neo-retro machine finally eclipse that seemingly elusive 100 mph marker? To answer that question, we’ll analyze the Vitpilen’s acceleration, powerplant vitals, gearing, weight reduction measures, aerodynamics and electronic limitations. We’ll also see how various modifications can unleash even greater velocity.

By reviewing both independent testing results and owner experiences, we’ll determine if this svelte Swedish single has enough steam to join triple-digit territory. If any entry-level 400cc machine can accomplish such a feat, the spirited 2023 Vitpilen 401 stands the best chance of surmounting 100 mph. Let’s scrutinize the top speed equation of this mini road racer…

2023 Vitpilen 401 Model Overview

Before assessing outright velocity, let’s outline some background specifics on this lightweight Husqvarna roadster:

Key Specs:

Power in kW32 kW
Bore89 mm
Stroke60 mm
Displacement373 cm3
Tank Capacity (Approx.)9.5 l
Weight without Fuel151 kg
Seat Height835 mm
Steering Head Angle65°
Wheelbase1,399 mm (+/-15 mm)
Ground Clearance145 mm
Top Speed167 kmph (approximate)
Frame DesignChrome-moly tubular space frame, powder-coated
Price$5,299 USD plus $450 freight

Chassis & Suspension:

  • Chrome-moly tubular space frame, powder-coated
  • WP APEX 43 mm fork
  • WP APEX – Monoshock rear suspension
  • 320mm front disc brake
  • 230mm rear disc brake
  • Two channel Bosch 10.1MB ABS
  • Cast aluminum swingarm


  • Ride-by-wire throttle
  • LED lighting
  • Digital instrument display


  • BASE PRICE: $5,299.00 USD*
  • *MSRP: $5,299 plus $450 freight

Let’s now scrutinize why this neo-cafe racer struggles to conclusively clear 167 kmph (approximate) when running bone stock.

Vitpilen 401 Acceleration and Power Figures

vitpilen 401 acceleration and power figures

In the motorcycling world, there is no replacement for displacement. And bigger bikes with two or more cylinders understandably grab all the speed-focused spotlight.

Yet today’s advanced single-cylinder engines extract markedly more power from smaller displacements than ever before. KTM’s DUKE motorcycles reset expectations of thumping thumpers, and Husqvarna adopts that platform for the Vitpilen 401.

Its fuel-injected 373cc powerplant utilizes an oversquare architecture, with an 89mm bore and 60mm stroke. The SOHC four-valve head allows efficient breathing, fed by dual 40mm throttle bodies. Compression ratio is 12.6:1.

While no fire-breather, output specs still impress:

  • 32 kW power
  • No horsepower and torque figures provided

Translated to the tarmac, that equates to a 0-60 mph sprint time of 3.6 seconds. Helped by the feathery 151 kg curb weight, the Vitpilen boasts a nimble power-to-weight ratio.

So acceleration and general thrust clearly aren’t the limiting factors capping velocity. Where does the bottleneck emerge that prevents joining 167 kmph (approximate) territory?

Why is the Vitpilen 401 Limited to 100 MPH?

why is the vitpilen 401 limited to 100 mph

While certainly no slug off the line, the Vitpilen 401 eventually runs out of steam shy of higher velocities. Owners cite the factory speed limiter as the proverbial governor, electronically throttling momentum before hitting astronomical revs.

On unrestricted roads or racetracks, other 397-403cc singles can ultimately top higher speeds given enough tarmac. But it requires screaming near redline in top gear for extended periods, placing excessive loads on the powertrain.

For longevity and safety reasons, manufacturers electronically limit highway velocity – often 10-15 mph below realistic peak speeds. At an indicated 167 kmph, the engine RPMs already verge on excessive.

While the Vitpilen 401 harbors ample performance for legal highway cruising, it purposefully falls just shy of higher velocities when stock.

Let’s explore what specific performance modifications can finally help this neo-retro Husqvarna eclipse faster speeds.

How to Make the Vitpilen 401 Faster?

how to make the vitpilen 401 faster

Unlocking the Vitpilen’s ultimate velocity requires addressing three vital areas – aerodynamics, gearing, and electronic restrictions:

Improve Aerodynamic Penetration

The upright riding posture and minimal bodywork that define this motorcycle’s styling also hamper high-speed stability and fuel mileage. A slippery profile cheats the wind more efficiently.

Consider installing:

  • Low-profile windscreen
  • Bell-moto fairing kit
  • Tail tidier/license plate relocator
  • Shorty GP exhaust

Adjust Final Drive Gearing

Lower gear ratios hinder acceleration in lower cogs but sacrifice maximum speed. Adjusting the drivetrain can provide benefits:

  • Improves torque for faster exits
  • Theoretical top speed increase

Just ensure specifications stay within proper range with any gearing changes.

Derestrict Top Speed Limiter

This final step electronically unbridles the leashed acceleration built into the ECU mapping and ABS module. But ample caution warranted!

Safely unlocking performance requires professional Dyno tuning and flashing revised software. Not for novices.

With these modifications completed, the Vitpilen 401 may ultimately surpass higher velocities. But for public road usage, we can’t recommend de-restricting speed limiters. When professionally modified under controlled environments, the Vitpilen shows its performance potential.

Factors That Determine Top Speed

factors that determine top speed

Aside from electronic limitations, what technical elements factor into overall maximum velocity?

Engine Power vs Wind Resistance

Initially, increasing throttle directly translates to greater acceleration. But aerodynamic forces rise exponentially as speeds climb. The motorcycle eventually reaches a balancing point where wind drag equals the rear wheel output.

Upright nakeds like the Vitpilen 401 lack the penetrative profile of fully-faired bikes, hampering terminal velocity despite similar horsepower. Finding the ideal compromise involves balancing riding style, performance expectations and safety.


Lower overall gear ratios allow faster acceleration off the line. But fuel efficiency and maximum speed suffer on the highway. The ideal drivetrain compromise balances intended riding style with performance expectations.

Weight Savings

The Vitpilen 401 tips scales at a scant 151 kg wet. Further reductions in mass help acceleration. But at highway speeds, a kilo here or there makes negligible aerodynamic difference.

Husqvarna Cafe Racers Top Speed Comparison

ModelTop Speed
2020 Vitpilen 401100 mph (electronically limited)
2018 Vitpilen 401100 mph (electronically limited)
Vitpilen 701115 mph (est.)
Svartpilen 401100 mph (electronically limited)
Svartpilen 701115 mph (est.)

How Does The Vitpilen 401 Top Speed Compare?

The nimble neo-retro Husqvarna significantly outruns entry-level 250-300cc twins in ultimate pace potential thanks to its advanced thumper powertrain. The 373cc engine easily hexes the Kawasaki Ninja 400 or KTM RC390 in a straight line dash once rolling.

But larger displacement rivals ultimately prevail in top speed bragging rights:

  • KTM 390 Duke: 108–113 mph (de-restricted)
  • Yamaha MT-03: 108 mph (de-restricted)
  • Honda CB500F: 112 mph
  • Suzuki SV650: 130 mph

The Vitpilen 401 still holds its own against direct 400cc adversaries, with acceleration and handling that belie its diminutive engine size. Refined ergonomics differ markedly from petite sportbikes, offering comfortable long-distance capability.

Just don’t expect to outraced any 600cc supersports – or even certain 500cc twins – in an unrestricted top speed joust. But protecting your license was never the ethos behind Husqvarna’s Subtle Super Hooligan…

Owner Impressions – Vitpilen 401 Highway Capability

While hard acceleration runs or maximum velocity tests deviate from this bike’s intended realm, many owners still wish to exceed legal speeds now and then. Let’s see what Vitpilen pilots report when riding closer to the limits:

“Even two-up, I hit an indicated 167 kmph on a straight. Felt planted despite the small windscreen, but the engine buzzed up around 9k rpm!”

“For sane highway cruising it’s remarkably smooth. I can ride legal speeds for hours if I stop to stretch.”

“Got trapped trying to pass a truck on a narrow road. Pinning the throttle, saw an indicated 167 kmph before finally squeezing past!”

So while Husqvarna electronically limited top speed, owners praise sharp handling at highway velocities. The compact chrome-moly chassis provides stability when riding. Just expect some engine buzziness exceeding legal speeds.

Pros And Cons Of The Husqvarna Vitpilen 401


  • Iconic cafe racer styling
  • Surprisingly quick acceleration
  • Extremely nimble handling
  • Neutral, comfortable ergonomics
  • Quality suspension and brakes
  • Strong value


  • Significant engine vibration at high speeds
  • Tall seat height for shorter riders
  • Tight underseat storage
  • Engine noise drones at extended highway speeds

So while riders shouldn’t expect extreme velocity, that was never the intent for this retro-flavored roadster. Husqvarna focused on urban assault merits over benchmark-busting speed records. Judged on those merits, the Vitpilen 401 shines bright.

Similar Motorcycle Alternatives

If you admire the Vitpilen’s temperament but still desire a tick more peak velocity, several similar machines merit consideration:

  • KTM Duke 390: Aggressive ergos reflect track DNA in a mostly street-focused package with premium suspension. Expect a bit more top speed along with edgier handling.
  • BMW G310R: Entry-level Beemer likely to undercut the Husky on sticker price. Refined powertrain but less radical styling. Slightly slower overall.
  • Honda CB500F: Time-tested parallel twin offers bulletproof build quality and reliability. Bland looks but will outrun the Vitpilen while returning 60+ mpg.
  • Moto Guzzi V7 Stone: Iconic Italian marque oozes retro allure from its transverse v-twin powertrain toIts chrome accents. Relaxed ergos favor cruising over canyons. More soul than speed.

Conclusion – 100 MPH Within Grasp

While the Vitpilen 401 falls just short of extreme velocities when electronically restricted from the factory, it still outruns its 400cc rivals. Professional tuning and strategic modifications can help unlock performance.

Yet even bone stock, the thumper motor and featherweight chassis allow the Vitpilen to outpace lumbering traffic. Nimble handling remains this machine’s strength over outright speed. It can swiftly devour winding roads, then graciously commute you to work.

Despite favoring form over function compared to its KTM cousins, the neo-retro Husqvarna Vitpilen 401 retains serious performance cred thanks to its advanced underpinnings.

This Swedish single artfully blends contemporary technological advancements like ride-by-wire throttle and LED lighting in a vintage-inspired silhouette. While limited to 167 kmph, that ceiling still surpasses what 412cc rivals achieve.

So while the Vitpilen 401 may fall shy of extreme velocities, it injects excitement for riders focused more on the journey itself. Husqvarna blended enough speed to deliver thrilling backroad bliss without overwhelming newcomers.

In today’s regulatory climate, triple-digit figures remain a rarity for entry-level mounts. Yet the Vitpilen 401 assuredly ranks among the fastest, most satisfying 400cc singles thanks to its advanced engine. This neo-cafe charmingly reminds us that motorcycling was never just about outright speed – but the pure thrill of riding itself.

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